Naruto is a story that is either loved or hated, not because of the content though. Too many people love this anime for all the wrong reasons and too many people hate this anime for invalid reasons. Just like Death Note loudmouth idiots create hype and people wanna look down on them, as is human nature. The truth is Naruto is a shounen at heart but it has all the makings of great stories through out the ages and remains very engaging throughout the true story line.
Naruto creates its own world very effectively by setting up boundries and acknowledging limitations which gives it realism in its own way. It allows the anime to take itself seriously without looking stupid and this is what sets a good Shounen apart from bad ones. There is nothing unique about the story line but it's intricate and complex, it may sound stupid to say that but most anime's story line are very simplistic in comparison, even if they are far deeper and mature. Enemies are three dimensional, the themes are mature and complex even when introduced in immature ways and the feelings of character seem real. If you try and apply them all to the world of Naruto then they are weak, a boy's goal to become recognized by a village through his strength? The companionship of the ninjas, whatever you wanna take out of it. It's all pretty weak but if you apply those kinds of themes to our world then while they're not ground breaking or amazing, they do have depth. The performance of identity, searching for somewhere to belong, obligations to others, war, ambition, significance of "bonds", selfishness, arrogance, competition, determination vs talent, duty and many more. These themes are very shallow in Naruto but they can run very deep in real life and if you can take these themes deep enough in your head then Naruto becomes a mature anime.
The animation of Naruto was amazing in developing the characters and the battles. Each character was very defined and unforgettable, the fights were interesting and colorful. I really liked the animation but there's nothing deep about it so i'll just say it was good and move on.
An amazing array of talented seiyuu also led to distinct characters and some amazing emotional scenes. I get bored when anime characters just sound like Japanese people after watching Naruto, each character's voice is so interesting, defined and powerful that it establishes a connection with the character easily. I don't think any other anime has a better team of voice actors. That's not the only reason that Naruto's sound stands out from others, i've rarely been so attached to so many different OP's and ED's in a series that changes them this often. So many of them I actually bothered to youtube them and listen to the full verson in just one anime, where I rarely bother to look up any in most. As though that wasn't enough the power of the OST is undeniable as well, powerful in both bringing out emotions in both battle scenes and sympathetic ones. Some were a tad overused and it's also undeniable that there was a lot of potential to use great music.
A difficult section to rate because many facets of Naruto's production aid the characters, how much of that should go to this section? The truth is none of them are interesting, they're all very simplistic yet likeable. They are amazing because they're so memorable and distinct from each other but that isn't because of character design. However character design does play a role and for a shounen they did their job quite well. A lot of the characters in Naruto that were at least a little bit complex have become extremely one dimensional in Naruto Shippuden with the exception of Itachi, Pain and perhaps Hinata and i'm not sure if I should completely sperate Naruto from Shippuden. I'll split it but they don't really deserve to be split because i'm pretty sure the manga is not. 7/10 considering it's a shounen is what i'll give, but i'm not entirely convinced that the character designs were as significant and i'm rating them for.
A difficult series to conclude on but the huge number of flash backs and flaws that came directly from Naruto being made into an anime have a huge impact on my overall rating. Naruto isn't too complex or unique but nor does it try to be yet it has layers of emotion that a lot of shounen it's been grouped with don't. Naruto Shippuden is probably a lot more valid for many of the faults that those shounen are barraged with but not Naruto. I didn't watch the 80 fillers and you don't need to either so that's not part of my conclusion. I didn't even watch the fillers that were within the series even if they had some relevance to the plot. Naruto has a layer of complexity and emotion that other shounen doesn't, yet it's often hated for it's length. Naruto is about 120 episodes long without the fillers, that is more than reasonable in my opinion. Soul Eater, Darker than Black, Hikaru no Go are all missing that element that Naruto had for me.
I suggest you give Naruto a try if you've been putting it off because you disliked Bleach or One Piece, or perhaps that the number of episodes seemed too much.